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Lipo-Chitooligosaccharides Induce Specialized Fungal Metabolite Profiles That Modulate Bacterial Growth...

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Lipo-chitooligosaccharides (LCOs) are historically known for their role as microbial-derived signaling molecules that shape plant symbiosis with beneficial rhizobia or mycorrhizal fungi. Recent studies showing that LCOs are widespread across the fungal kingdom have raised questions about the ecological function of these compounds in organisms that do not form symbiotic relationships with plants. To elucidate the ecological function of these compounds, we investigate the metabolomic response of the ubiquitous human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus to LCOs. Our metabolomics data revealed that exogenous application of various types of LCOs to A. fumigatus resulted in significant shifts in the fungal metabolic profile, with marked changes in the production of specialized metabolites known to mediate ecological interactions. Using network analyses, we identify specific types of LCOs with the most significant effect on the abundance of known metabolites. Extracts of several LCO-induced metabolic profiles significantly impact the growth rates of diverse bacterial species. These findings suggest that LCOs may play an important role in the competitive dynamics of non-plant-symbiotic fungi and bacteria. This study identifies specific metabolomic profiles induced by these ubiquitously produced chemicals and creates a foundation for future studies into the potential roles of LCOs as modulators of interkingdom competition.